Responding to Michael Gove’s announcement on plans for the way farming subsidies will be dealt with after Brexit, Plaid Cymru Shadow Cabinet Secretary for the Environment and Rural Affairs Simon Thomas said
“Though it is welcome to hear Michael Gove talk of issues that have not been taken seriously by Westminster government politicians before, it is important to remember agriculture and the environment is devolved to Wales, and Plaid Cymru is determined that it remains so as we leave the EU. Much of what Mr Gove talked about is more relevant to the very different pattern of arable and grazing land in England as compared to Wales. Indeed, Wales has been at the forefront of much of the agri-environmental work Mr Gove is now talking about in England.
“The challenge for us in Wales is ensuring we have the tools to do the job. No commitment was made today by Mr Gove to ensuring we retain our near 10% of current EU farm and environment payments under the new funding regime he talked about. If he is serious about his intentions he must make that commitment as a matter of urgency so the environmental gains made in Wales are not lost and we are able to maintain both healthy eco-systems and viable farming.
“Mr Gove also has to be clearer around promoting and prioritising Welsh and UK food after we have left the EU and maintaining our high welfare, high quality production. Others in his government are seeking deals to flood the market with cheap, sub-standard food. It’s no good seeing environmental benefits in the UK if we pay a high price in poor animal welfare and environmental degradation elsewhere.
“The Tory government has just a few months to get its Brexit deals together, yet Mr Gove is still talking in terms of principles and ideas and not practical delivery or money. We urgently need an agreed common framework for agriculture and the environment in the UK, endorsed by all parliaments and not imposed by Whitehall, and a firm commitment to Wales’s fair share of farm payments. Anything less will lead to uncertainty, under-investment and job losses in our delicately-balanced rural communities.”